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Phony doctor’s arrest brings relief to Maspeth family

Dean Faiello, 44, of Newark was arrested last Thursday at the Villas Playa Samara resort in Costa Rica, said Paul Larrabee, a spokesman for state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

Larrabee said Faiello had initially been held on immigration charges, but later that same day a warrant was signed by a Costa Rican judge "based on his flight from New York on a plea of guilty for unauthorized practice of medicine."

Police found the remains of missing Manhattan financial analyst Maria Cruz, 35, on Feb. 18 in a suitcase buried under a concrete platform in Faiello's garage.

Police Department spokesman Paul Browne said Faiello was wanted for questioning in Cruz's disappearance.

"We are somewhat relieved that he has been apprehended because he will not be a danger to the community," said Cruz's uncle, Jose Navarro, of Maspeth.

"Nothing is going to bring back Maria," said Navarro, calling Faiello's arrest "a small consolation compared to the loss."

Faiello had been arrested in October 2002 and charged by Spitzer's office with unlicensed practice of medicine, but disappeared before his scheduled sentencing late last year, Larrabee told the TimesLedger last month.

Cruz had scheduled an appointment with Faiello to treat a condition known as "black tongue" at an apartment on West 16th Street, Browne said.

Cruz was reported missing by her Maspeth relatives on April 18, 2003 after the Filipino native failed to pick up her siblings at Kennedy Airport.

A 2002 news release by the attorney general said Faiello "claimed to have certification and expertise in laser hair removal, collagen treatments, acupuncture and tattoo removal" but "the investigation by the state Education Department found that he was unlicensed in any medical profession."

Cruz's cousin, New Jersey resident Therese de los Angeles, said "we were so upset that he was on the beach relaxing. It was like he had no feelings."

Spitzer's spokesman said extradition papers were "in the process of being developed" on the unlicensed medical practice charge. Costa Rica will then have 60 days to respond to the request, he said.

Navarro, Cruz's uncle, said that although his brother wanted the death penalty for Faiello, "I think he is going to suffer more if he stays in jail for the rest of his life."

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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